While we cannot yet officially call it a comeback, especially with the potential NHL lockout on the horizon in just less than a month, but former NHL stars Alexei Kovalev and Dominik Hasek say they are both gearing up for a return to the NHL in the 2012-2013 season.
But can AK-27 and The Dominator really still play well enough to ink themselves a deal to return to the NHL, considering their age and time away from the game?
Kovalev, 39, played in the KHL in Russia last season, but says he has received at least four offers from teams in the NHL to at least attempt a tryout.
“I’ve received invitations to training camps and hopefully begin skating towards the end of August to be ready for next season,” said Kovalev. It was rumored that two teams who may be in on the Kovalev invites are one of his former teams, the Montreal Canadiens, as well as the Washington Capitals. Kovalev last played in the NHL in the 2010-2011 season, splitting time with both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. He played in 74 games and tallied 34 points combined.
But if Kovalev seems like a long shot, especially at 39-years-old, what are the odds that the 47-year-old Hasek can make it back to the NHL? After all, The Dominator has not played in the NHL since the 2007-2008 season with the Detroit Red Wings, although he was stellar in net that year. He has, however, been working out with HC Pardubice, where he won a Czech League title in the 2009-2010 season.
But while Kovalev is just hoping he can earn a roster spot to start the season, Hasek is looking to secure a multi-year contract.
That may be quite extreme, considering his age and all, but with the often erratic play of many goaltenders in the game today, Hasek could at least get invited to work out for a few teams. And while he may no longer be The Dominator in net, Hasek could probably help at least a few teams going forward, if in no other role than a back up and mentor for a younger goalie.
Either way, both could get a look in the preseason, provided we have a preseason at some point.